I began helping an elderly woman in our community recently.  I want her to remain anonymous; suffice it to say she is energetic, funny and 89.  I have been to her home twice.  I stayed for 2 or 3 hours, helped her clean, helped her begin to sort and pack up her history.  Her kids want her to move to assisted living, she does not want to leave home.  Anyway, I let her tell me what she wanted done and I did it.

The first time I went I was asked to stop working and have lunch.  I confess, I wanted to keep working and get on with my day.  She was heating up soup and I could tell she wanted to talk, so I sat down at her kitchen table and had a bowl.  I was rewarded with this story:

My Daddy worked for the forestry service and he was gone a lot.  Daddy was a good man, he always made sure we had two things; a house in town since we didn’t have a car, and a wood stove or fireplace so we would be warm.  The forestry service gave Daddy a car once a month so he could come home.  He was there long enough to get Mama pregnant and then he left again.  Mama had 5 babies in 7 years.  We moved a  lot because of Daddy’s job.  For a while, we lived in a little town in Tennessee.  We had a neighbor, Mr. Jim.  He would come by and cut wood and check on us, knowing Daddy had to be gone.  Back then, I got ear aches, bad ones.  Sometimes I ran a fever.  One night, I had a bad ear ache  and a fever.  Mama called Mr. Jim.  He came over to our house to blow smoke in my ear.  Mr. Jim brought his pipe.  He sat down at our kitchen table and lit his pipe, puffed on it.  Then he pulled me up in his lap and blew smoke in my sore ear, real slow and steady.  

At this point, I interrupted the story to ask, “Did it work?  Did the smoke in your ear cure your ear ache?”

Mr. Jim thought it did.  So did Mama.  Either way, it was a comfort to sit in his lap when I was sick and Daddy was gone.”

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